OK first, I’m so in love with our library. Don’t ask me why, but in seven years I never did more than set a toe inside the PT version a few times. Part of the reason might be the PT library had an assy kid setup; kids didn’t stay where they were supposed to and it was kind of a “hush”ing library; furthermore there was no way to do grownup stuff or even look for a book without abandoning your children one floor down – not a possibility for those with younguns. The HQX library has an upstairs that is much louder (at times, depending on number of children) than any library I’ve been in – which is to say it sounds like a normal building but quieter. Lately I’ve taken to going daily and letting my kids read / play while I do – this, blogging. Or reserve holds, write an article for the zine, whatever. It’s good times. Before we leave Sophie and I check out five books from Timberland’s list of 100 to read before school.
There are technical aspects of the library that are just precious. For instance, they have a mid-nineties-esque computer use registry (which is actually quite handy to use; last night I registered station 3 for 11 today, each station funnily enough called HO-INET) and the browser (some version of IE) will not let you find a webpage unless you painstakingly type the “http://”, technical pickinesses that further inspire episodes like the one this morning:
At 11 I’m sitting next to this dude who is probably under 60 but has the fretting, soft voice of a much older man as he struggles to do something on the computer. I hear him saying stuff like, “Oh no, not that…” and “I don’t understand!”, “Oh dear,” then, inexplicably, “They always make it look easier on TV.” I start feeling like either he talks to himself (which I suppose one should ignore?) or he is hoping I will horn in and assist him with whatever (modest, I’m guessing) computer task he’s undertaking. One thing about HQX, you learn to roll with the crazies and more or less mind your own business until they try to talk to you, ask for help, fondle you, or all three.
Sure enough, a few moments after I’ve noticed his self-talk he says, “Excuse me miss… Do you know how to do things with the internet?” (I am not joking and think he even said something weirder but in my spontaneous glee I was not taking careful mental notes). I get up and look over his shoulder and see he is trying to submit some recepits to Rite-Aid for a refund. He’s been doing this for however long without successfully having signed into their website. I take him to the page to do so and give him instruction, then sit back down as he hen-pecks agonizingly and talks to himself some more (“My title? … What’s my title?”) and finally clicks something that sends him back to fill in required fields he’d omitted. He asks for my help again and I get up again and look and he says, “Do I click on the star?” (the asterisk denoting required fields). I tell him no, click into the empty text box and ask for his email address. He freezes. “No, I don’t have one. Can’t you tell? I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” (he said, “I’m sorry” no fewer than ten times in our brief transaction, indeed the only thing that even slightly annoyed me).
Apparently he was willing to spend a half hour on these pennies from Rite Aid but getting an email address is the most terrifying thing he’s heard of. His self-effacing smile freezes on his face and although I tell him it would only take a few minutes to set up an email account, he shakes his head and says, “No, no…” He puts his hand on the mouse and sighs and says, “I’ll just … kill myself. OK?” (I’m hoping he means close his browser window). Then thanks me, repeatedly and (I think) logs off the workstation. I hear him a few minutes later talking to the librarians: “I found out you have to have an email.” Their gentle, flyaway grey spirits are also unsuccessful in convincing him to get an email account and he eventually floats away, after once again passing by, thanking me, and yes, finally putting his arm around me briefly (I have been groped in this library an average of every other visit).
Meanwhilw I log into my account and look at how much longer I have my current audiobook; I’m thinking my parents would like to take it along when they set out next week to drive to southern California. Shhh! Don’t tell!